A Brief History of Music Therapy

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 13, 2012

For almost thousands of years, the amazing healing properties of music have found immense recognition. Therefore, music has not emerged as a form of entertainment alone! It has been used for enhancing concentration levels, healing pain, dealing with mental trauma and anxiety as well as giving respite in some chronic diseases and ailments. In order to understand the healing effects of music therapy better, one must travel through a brief history of music therapy.

Brief History of Music Therapy:

  1. The Earliest Mention—The earliest mention of the healing properties of music has been found in the Hebrew Book of Samuel. There is an episode where King Saul is being relentlessly tormented by an evil spirit, and the spirit only departs when young David plays a soothing lyre for him. This immediately restores King Saul in the right spirits.
  2. Ancient Greek Reference—Similarly, Hippocrates, who is widely considered to be the father of modern medicine, used music as a prominent healing device for treating patients in the ancient Greek era. Music featured prominently in the list of treatments offered by him.
  3. Egyptian Reference—According to popular belief, healing music was used by the Egyptians to soothe the pain of labour and subsequent childbirth.
  4. Advent of Structured forms—Using music as a more structured and formalized way of treatment emerged through the last 100 years. Around this time, music was used as a therapeutic aid for students and individuals with special needs and requirements. This trend developed into a prominent one worldwide. The stirrings of the treatment regime began at the turn of the twentieth century. 1903 saw the establishment of a society in the United States that promoted the therapeutic use of music. This was the National Therapeutics Society of New York.
  5. More Structured forms—Subsequently, the Australians were inspired with the development of this society, and they went on to form a body called the International Society for Musical Therapeutics in the year 1924.
  6. Music Therapy Programs—Next, it was time for the development of music therapy programmes offered by educational institutions. The first degree awarding programme was the one offered by the Michigan State University in 1944.

These developments gave way to the development of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music Therapy, during the 1980s. Today, courses on music therapy are being offered by all major universities across the globe.



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